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An introduction to the thematic issue on “Ore deposits in the Variscan basement of Central Europe”

Gutzmer, J.; Markl, G.

Much of the basement geology of Central Europe is characterized by volcanosedimentary successions of Late Precambrian and Early Paleozoic age that have been variably deformed and metamorphosed during the Variscan orogeny, followed by the intrusion of voluminous granites. The Variscan orogen records the closure of the Rheic ocean and the collision of Laurussia with Gondwana to form the Supercontinent Pangaea, and occurred as a series of protracted geotectonic events providing a suitable framework for the formation of a diverse range of ore deposits.

It comes as no surprise that the Variscan basement is host to most significant ore deposits of Central Europe. These ore deposits did not only provide the raw materials needed for industrial development in the past, but their mining yielded the need for scientific research and technological innovation. This need was also expressed by the publication of the world’s first textbook dedicated to economic geology as a distinct subdiscipline of the geosciences (Cotta 1855).

Industrial exploitation of most ore deposits of the Variscan basement in Central Europe ceased towards the end of the 20th century, typically due to subdued metal prices, but not motivated by a lack of mineral resources. Yet, following the demise of the mining sector there was the prevailing perception that Central Europe had little to offer for future exploration. This erroneous perception has seen a surprising reversal in the last decade. Renewed exploration interest is attributable not only to higher commodity prices but also to the realization of the significant geostrategic risk of highly industrialized countries to be entirely dependent on raw materials imports (EU 2008).

Publ.-Id: 28402